(WMC-TV) - When lives are at stake, the quick arrival of law enforcement officers becomes critical. Unless their driving habits put others in danger.
Dash cam video reveals Shelby County Sheriff's deputies topping speeds of 110 miles per hour. Some officers are driving with no lights, no sirens, and some of them are not even responding to a call.
Now the sheriff's office is taking action against their own employees.
"We've had to suspend officers up to three days for their driving," said Shelby County Sheriff's assistant chief Larry Young. "The public expects us to be out here obeying the speed limits."
The sheriff's office spent months reviewing an audit of deputies speeding over 90 miles an hour during the month of February. A random review of 125 dash cam videos revealed nine percent of the deputies speeding were not responding to a call.
Some of them were traveling over a 100 miles an hour with nowhere important to go.
"They were either driving too fast going to the work station, where they were getting assigned or coming to the substation when they were getting off," said Young.
Drivers who saw the video call it a dangerous double standard.
Shelby County Sheriff's Office sergeant Robert Elliot demonstrated a motor vehicle recorder installed in about 150 patrol cameras. When the speedometer hits the 90 mile an hour mark, the camera automatically starts rolling.
In October 2012 a deputy who was speeding on wet roads lost control and hit a guard rail. Young says similar minor incidents and dangerous to deadly crashes around the country prompted the audit.
"It was a just a proactive move that we decided to look at to see if we had a problem," said Young.
Sixty percent of deputies audited were justifiably speeding to respond to an emergency. Twenty-one percent of the cases were attributed to faulty equipment.
"The GPS would show the car stationary on the recording, but it showed him doing 220 miles an hour," said Young explaining one of the cases.
Ten percent of the cases were inconclusive, but it is the nine percent of dangerous deputies that raised a red flag. They are putting their own lives and the lives of citizens at risk.
"We want the public to know that we are concerned about the safety of the public. And that we hold our officers accountable for their conduct," said Young.
Young says officers caught speeding at that unjustified rate of speed have already been disciplined anywhere from an oral reprimand to a three day suspension. He says the department is looking changing their policies to keep this from continuing.
Assistant Chief Young cited the recent deadly crash involving former Memphis police officer Alex Beard as one of the reasons the sheriff's office looked into how their deputies were driving.
Action News 5 asked Memphis police if the department had considered doing an audit of its own. MPD said they do not have the capability of tracking speeds the same way the sheriff's office does.
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